Gov. Scott Signs Bill Establishing 'Racial Justice Oversight Board'

May 31, 2017

Advocates for criminal justice reform hope a new law will curb racial disparities in police stops and incarceration rates.

Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill Wednesday that establishes a “racial justice oversight board” to examine systemic biases in law enforcement practices and the court system.  

“There’s much more work to be done to address racial disparities in our systems, but Vermont is once again demonstrating its commitment to working toward more equitable, fair and just practices,” Scott said as he announced he had signed the bill.

The 15-person board will also scrutinize other arenas of government to see how race affects education, labor and employment, access to housing and health care, and economic development, according to the governor’s office.

The legislation will also update the state’s fair and impartial policing policy, and institute more consistent policies across all police jurisdictions.

James Lyall, executive director of the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement that the new law “is a meaningful and important step forward.”

“In addition to establishing a racial justice oversight panel to combat profound racial disparities, this bill also moves Vermont a step closer to a uniform statewide fair and impartial policing policy to prevent local police from getting entangled in federal immigration operations,” Lyall said.